Parental views on allowing teens to be in a "serious" relationship in grade school.

4Q Basket Case

FB|BB Moderator
Nov 8, 2004
Re: Parental views on allowing teens to be in a "serious" relationship in grade schoo

Haven't posted much lately. This is a good topic to dive back in on though.

I'm generally ok with relationships being semi-serious. I'm of the opinion that in and around high school is very much the time that your kids are supposed to be figuring this stuff out on their own. I'm not completely hands off though.

It often seems like the MO these days is to treat kids like adults and want to be their friend when your primary role in their life above all others is to be a parent, and being a parent means exercising some degree of control over what they can see, who they can interact with, what they can do, how much freedom they have, etc. And trust and more freedom is earned, not a given. Now, we constantly have to do our best to balance freedom and protection, making sure we're on a progression toward them going off to college and the real world able to navigate on their own once they're out of our protection, but this attitude of teens knowing what they want, how to get it in a healthy way, how to process emotions and grown-up stuff is crazy. They don't know, their brains are still growing in terms of emotional and psychological development and they need guidance and boundaries, not a free for all. You don't shelter them, but you give it to them enough freedom in gradual bits as you help them understand its power and as you see them demonstrate trust and responsibility. It's no different than teaching them to swim as a kid; one day they'll be allowed to jump in the pool when you're not watching them like a hawk, but that takes a few years of supervision.

Unfortunately, my 14 year old’s first entry in the dating pool these last few months did not go well, and I was forced to step in and end it. Long story.
Good job, Dub. As I've said before, Mrs. Basket Case and I never had kids. We have, however, had a lot of time to observe what works and what doesn't, and to do so without emotional involvement.

It's a balancing act, and I know it has to be a hard one. You want them to develop wings, but you also don't want them to get hurt learning that. Figuratively speaking, a few bumps and bruises are OK. Sometimes even excellent deterrents to repeat behavior. But at the same time, you can't let your child go headlong into something no-fooling nasty just because, "they have to learn," or because, "they have to know that I trust them."

Your line about trust and freedom being earned is one that should be in every schoolroom, pediatrician's office, school office, parents' bedroom and child's bedroom.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that, at age 15, my experience is that the best parents operate a safety net that the child ideally doesn't even know exists. The child thinks he/she is making decisions on his/her own. What they don't know is that there's an eagle-eye watching to make sure they don't get into something that they're not ready for or that can result in lasting consequences on which do-overs don't exist. The hard part is discerning what they're ready for and what they're not.

It's a shame you had to step in on your daughter's first foray into romance. I know you didn't do it lightly, and am sure that she, and Mrs. Dub, and you are glad you did.

If all parents were as good as you and Mrs. Dub, we'd have little to no need of social services.
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Hall of Fame
Re: Parental views on allowing teens to be in a "serious" relationship in grade schoo

It's a shame you had to step in on your daughter's first foray into romance. I know you didn't do it lightly, and am sure that she, and Mrs. Dub, and you are glad you did.
Ava’s reaction, more than anything else, is how I know I nailed it this time. When I gave her an out, it was a tremendous burden off of her shoulders, and she’s thankfully as close to me as she’s ever been. I had halfway expected resentment for the depth of my meddling in her personal affairs, but she’s actually appreciative I stepped in when I did and pulled her out of a situation beyond her control.

I’m happy with how it worked out. I’m still very much “feeling it out” for myself. That I have a functional “dad-radar” when I often feel like little more than than a 33 year old kid myself is nice.

Ava had her first experience with emotional abuse, but without any lasting damage done, which will be a tremendous boon going forward as she learns how healthy, adult romantic relationships are supposed to work.

Thank God it’s still summer. I may very well kill the next boy.


Hall of Fame
Re: Parental views on allowing teens to be in a "serious" relationship in grade schoo

I'm the oldest so naturally, they were the tightest with me and the loosest with my news producer brother, who is 16 years younger than I.

I sorta did it the traditional way until she went Bat spit crazy, and my brother knocked up a girl a few years before he married her (who turned out to have been married before).

My parents controlled me through an easier way: they simply didn't let me have a driver's license, and I'm not totally convinced that was a bad idea, either. I was technically permitted to "date" when I was 13 at Sembach AFB in Germany, which would have consisted of going to the movie theatre or the youth center or bowling alley together........if any 13-year old girls had been permitted to date, of course.

So it was a lot of theory with obstacles. Sure, I could date at 16, but I couldn't drive - to which my Dad's "solution" was to tell me to ask some gal out and have her pick me up and drive, and I pay for the gas money.

But then there's my sorta girlfriend my senior year. We both went to the same church, she went to a Christian school (me to a public one). She was a freshman while I was a senior (17-14 as the age goes). Many years earlier, her older sister had married and divorced twice. Momma always blamed it on the fact that she let her daughter date too soon. What caused it, in fact, was that Momma's rule was "no dating until 16," but when she was 15, a guy asked her to the prom and after a lot of begging and pleading and crying, Mom relented.

Somehow in this twisted world, Momma decided that her relenting the one time for one date to the prom caused her divorces. (To be fair - I obviously didn't have info the Mom did, but that seemed simplistic to me even at 17).

So my prom comes up. I expect her Mom to say no, but I go ahead and ask the girl, who accepts and then asks Mom. Mom doesn't talk to her, she comes and talks to me. She was very polite, said she was so glad I was in her daughter's life and she had no concerns with me - but told me about compromising on her rule and said she would not do it again. I told her I understood (even at 17, I sorta did) and thanked her.

I wound up going to the prom with one of the hottest girls in the school, pretty much the 80s stereotype.

The girl whose mom wouldn't let her go? Well, her first date was on her 16th birthday with a guy she'd known longer than I (and who was actually closer to her age - he was a friend of mine, too). She dated other guys, met one in his late 20s - and then got married on her 18th birthday.

She was divorced by 22, but at least it wasn't because she went to the prom with me.

I don't think there's any set rule, and I had little input because my ex left and took my son with her and is far more permissive than I am.

Of course, then I point out to her and her sisters:
1) ex was dating a girlfriend beater at 17, met me at 19, we married at 21 after we both finished college
2) her sister started dating around 14 and got married at 20 to a guy who was 42 years old, who died of panc cancer three years ago - that's the one who drove up under the school bus (I mentioned that here when it happened in 2013 because it was on the news)
3) younger sister started dating at 12, got a visit from the Goddess of Cleavage shortly thereafter, got knocked up at 14, had a stroke in her teens, got married at 28 and had another child, is now a meth head sleeping with her drug dealer and going through a divorce at 35 after her daughter got active with a guy she met online at 15 and then gave birth to another guy's kid less than a year out of high school

I don't think there's any "right" way to do it.

I saw kids raised in church go to college and become promiscuous, and the worst Don Juan in my college (a Sam Malone type) is now a pastor of a church and wound up marrying a widow who had children (that's one I never would have believed eight years earlier).

I don't think age matters, I think ability to handle responsibility (sort of maturity but not exactly) is the key.

If you can't even keep your room clean or know to make your bed, you probably don't need to be dating anyway.


Hall of Fame
Re: Parental views on allowing teens to be in a "serious" relationship in grade schoo

I know it doesn't matter, but I like to think my HS gf's mother (who is still alive today, I'm guessing around 78 or so) now thinks, "You know, maybe I should have let her go with Bill and things would have been different."

I don't think the would have - because once I matured a bit in college, I had very little for high maintenance and at least mildly narcissistic ways.
The fact I married someone else with the same name and those same qualities is due to the second one being better at hiding it until after marriage.

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